A proposal to sell liquor and serve beer and wine in Saxman is generating some controversy. The application comes from the Southeast community’s village corporation.
Saxman is only a couple miles from Ketchikan. But the predominantly Alaska Native community hasn’t sold liquor in recent memory.
But a pair of liquor license applications were recently submitted by the local native corporation. And that’s generated some heat from community members.
Here’s Christian Dalton speaking at a recent city council meeting.
“It’s one thing for a non-native to sell a native booze. It’s another thing for a native to sell a native booze,” he said.
He’s referring to the Cape Fox Corporation, which is considering serving beer and wine at a restaurant it owns next to city hall. It also is applying for a liquor store license.
Lee Wallace, president of Saxman’s tribal council, told city leaders he’s concerned about alcohol sales in the heart of this close-knit community of 300 or so people.
“Right across the way here, right across the way from the gymnasium, where a lot of youth have activities,” Wallace said in an interview with KRBD.
Native Corporation representatives told the city council it would regulate alcohol sales responsibly, according to the meeting minutes. And even opponents of liquor in the community acknowledged the native corporation’s mandate is to make money for its shareholders: many of whom were in the room.
Cape Fox executives didn’t respond to subsequent requests for comment.
It’s unclear what the Saxman city council’s move will be. Alaska’s state liquor laws give local governments the right to protest liquor licenses in their communities. But only for cause: there has to be a legal reason.
Some Saxman residents urged the city council to take the initiative to ban liquor outright. Alaska has what’s called “local option,” which allows communities to go dry by referendum. Saxman has tried that in the 1980s and 90s — both times voters rejected going dry.
Saxman’s city council is expected to revisit the issue on Nov. 5.